In a first-of-its-kind initiative led by Saudi Arabia’s telecoms regulator, the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), all the six Telecom Service Providers in Saudi Arabia signed an open access agreement guaranteeing the provision of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband services through any subscriber-selected service provider, independent of fiber infrastructure ownership.
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Broadband Services in Saudi Arabia Set to Receive Significant Boost From New Open Access Initiative (Graphic: AETOSWire)
The agreement was signed on February 23rd by the CEOs of STC, Mobily, Zain, Etihad Atheeb Telecom (GO), Integrated Telecom Company (ITC) and Integrated Dawiyat. The initiative aims to encourage competition, attract investment, and increase broadband subscriptions by improving service quality and consumer choice.
In the global telecoms industry, it is the first time that a telecom regulator is the main driver of the signing of a nation-wide active infrastructure sharing agreement among all operators in the market, both access seekers and access providers.
Dr. Mohammed Al Tamimi, governor of the CITC, commented, “The adoption of an open access model will increase the use of our fiber-optic infrastructure through the development of commercial agreements that make it easier for subscribers to move from one provider to another.” The governor commended the level of cooperation between participating telecoms companies throughout the development of the open access initiative.
Over ten commercial agreements were signed between the operators after the completion of over 90 workshops regulated by the Fiber Bitstream Rules and Guidelines published by the CITC in November 2019.
The Kingdom’s digital transformation has accelerated significantly since the launch of Vision 2030, with its ICT sector valued at $28.7 billion, the largest in the Arab world. According to the International Telecommunication Union, Saudi Arabia has an internet penetration rate of 93% versus the global average of 53%.
Additionally, the Kingdom was the first adopter of commercial 5G technology in the region and the third largest globally, and recently jumped 92 places to 13th in global rankings for internet speed, with an average download speed of 55.6 Mbps.